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Time travel to pre-Civil War South, discuss a favorite Conseula Francis novel

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | January 30, 2017 | No Comment |

This month the African American Studies Book Club is reading and discussing Kindred, by Octavia Butler, a novel that explores life in pre-Civil War Maryland. The program in Southern Studies is happy to be a co-sponsor of this endeavor along with the department of English. Please join us!

The first discussion is Wednesday, February 1, at 6 PM in 9 College Way. On this date, participants will discuss the first 107 pages of the book. On Wednesday, February 22, participants will discuss the remainder of the book (pages 108-264). All interested students and faculty are welcome to attend either or both of these discussions.

One blogger noted that Kindred makes “every other time travel book in the world look as if it’s wimping out.” In it, a character living in California in the 1970s finds herself unwillingly time-traveling back to Maryland in the early 1800s.  The main character, Dana, is a young African American writer who experiences firsthand some of the horrific realities of slavery, all while realizing that the slaveholders and enslaved people she encounters in Maryland are connected to her own family.

Through this novel, Butler informs readers of the realities of American slavery while meditating on how human beings in terrible conditions manage to survive and the choices they must make to do so. It’s both a history lesson and a chance to contemplate what it means to be human and how the past affects the present.

Dr. Conseula Francis

When AAST professor Dr. Mari Crabtree, director of the AAST Book Club, originally selected this month’s book, she had hoped that our discussion would include another AAST colleague, the late, great Professor Conseula Francis, who was the director of the program in African American Studies as well as a member of the English department. Dr. Francis was an Associate Provost from 2015 until she passed away in May 2016 after a brief illness. One of her scholarly publications was a collection of interviews with one of her favorite writers, Octavia Butler. This month as we discuss this book without her, we’ll be thinking of Conseula with sadness, and with much admiration and love.

under: African American Studies, C of C Program in Southern Studies, Events, Faculty, Students
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